Theory Into PracticeGAMBIER, Ohio (July 12, 2010) Students in Professor Wendy Singer's international studies class not only learn about global migration, but they also help pave the way for it by aiding in the resettlement of a Somali family.
"Globalization and Migration - at Home," a class designed for first-year students, explores the relationship between economic globalization and international migration by examining scholarship, theory, statistics, and the human experience as revealed in ethnographies, fiction, and film. To this broad framework is added a local perspective spotlighting the thriving Somali immigrant community in central Ohio, "so we see ourselves as part of an international community," said Singer, the Roy T. Wortman Professor of History and South Asian Studies.
Toward that end, the fifteen students in the class carried out of number of projects focused on the local community, where they examined issues including changing demographics, cultural influences, international trade, economic opportunities, education, and visa status. With Columbus the center of one of the largest Somali populations in the United States, the class saw a practical way to participate in the global process. They teamed with Community Refugee and Immigration Services (CRIS) in Columbus to furnish the household for an incoming family. Calling on the Kenyon community, they collected goods and financial support to set up an apartment with blankets, pots, plates, silverware, toiletries, and other necessities.
More than just a charity drive, the enterprise illustrated the "incredible amount of organization it takes to resettle refugees," said Stephen Haro, Class of 2013. The project offered practical insight into the migration process and informed final papers in which the students were asked to think theoretically about their understanding of migration and globalization.
On the final day of class, students drove to Columbus to deliver the donated goods. Although they were unable to meet the family they assisted, Haro said it was still rewarding to accompany the supplies to their destination. "Usually, when you make a donation, you never see where it goes. This was a lot more personal."